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Medicare spending could be cut if physicians were rewarded for better health outcomes, not sheer volume of care, experts agree

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1906 (Published 22 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1906
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

The time is right to deal with the so called “doc fix”­—the annual ritual of deferring cuts in Medicare payments to physicians—experts told a congressional briefing on 15 February.

But they were unclear as to how that might be achieved. Most believe that it must be part of a shift in reimbursement that rewards value and improved clinical outcomes.

The Medicare sustainable growth rate formula was enacted in 1997 as an attempt to rein in the volume and intensity of services and payments to physicians. It limited the increase in this area of spending to the overall rate of growth of the economy.

But after just one year of applying the formula, the howls of protest …

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